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China's Tesla Challenger Xpeng Launches 3 New EV Variants Powered by Cobalt-free, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) Batteries

China's Tesla Challenger Xpeng Launches 3 New EV Variants Powered by Cobalt-free, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) Batteries

Author: Eric Walz   

Chinese electric vehicle startup Xpeng Inc is emerging as one of Tesla's biggest challenges in China with its advanced electric vehicles. The company's flagship P7 Smart Sedan is a serious competitor to Tesla Model S in the Chinese market, offering the same level of high-tech features and performance, including autonomous driving capability

Now three new versions of Xpeng's fully-electric P7 sedan and G3 SUV are getting more advanced battery options that use no cobalt, which is one of the most expensive metals used in EV batteries.

Xpeng announced today that its expanded its product offerings by launching new variants of the P7 sedan and G3 SUV powered by cobalt-free, lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for the China market. 

The three new LFP-battery powered vehicles include a rear-wheel drive (RWD) version of Xpeng's P7 Standard Range Smart and Premium models. Both will be powered LFP batteries that deliver a range of NEDC 480km (298 miles). 

The new P7 Standard Range model is based on the existing RWD Long Range model on sale since last year in China and will come with a 60.2 kWh LFP battery pack. 

The other versions of the P7, including the Long Range and Super Long Range models, use a 70.8 kWh Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) battery pack, which contains cobalt. 

Xpeng's lowest priced G3 SUV 460c will also come with the new LFP batteries. The 460i and 520i versions of the X3 will still use the same lithium ion batteries.

Both the P7 and G3 powered by the new LFP batteries are now available to order in China. 

Xpeng_G3.png

The Xpeng G3 will have a cobalt-free, lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery option.

Most automakers are currently using the more common nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) or nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) batteries for electric vehicles because of their higher energy density, which offers a longer range.

However, LFP batteries contain no expensive cobalt and therefore cost less to produce. The battery pack in a typical EV is equal to roughly 25% of the selling price. By switching to LFP batteries automakers can make their EVs more affordable. 

However the tradeoff for LFP batteries is that they are less energy dense, which translates into less range between charges. 

But for the same price as the existing entry level P7 RWD Long Range model (229,900 RMB), customers can now purchase the new P7 RWD Standard Range model equipped with LFP batteries and the latest version of Xpeng's XPILOT 2.5 autonomous driving hardware, Xpeng said.

Xpeng said that shorter distance city driving is one of the main needs for a significant number of consumers in China. The company said that mid-level range EVs equipped with smarter features, including advanced autonomous driving functions, are more appealing to Chinese customers than range alone. So Xpeng's more affordable LFP-powered models will better address the needs of these customers in China.

In Sept 2020, Tesla announced that the Standard Range Model 3 built in China would also come with LFP batteries. Tesla's Performance Model 3 however will still use the standard NMC batteries. 

The standard range Model 3 on sale in China has an advertised range of 276 miles (445 km) with the NMC batteries. 

Xpeng's P7 Super Long Range model is the longest range EV sold in China, delivering a NEDC range of 706km (439 miles). It comes with a lithium ion battery pack and is priced from RMB 254,900 (US$39,410) post subsidies.

Retail prices (post subsidies) for the new Smart and Premium P7 with the LPF batteries cost less and are priced between RMB 229,900 (US$35,544) and RMB 239,900 (US$37,090), respectively. 

Xpeng's most affordable G3 460c version equipped with low-drag wheels and LFP batteries has the same driving range of the slightly more expensive 460i version, but will now cost the same. It's priced at just RMB 149,800 post subsidies (US$23,160). 

Deliveries of the more affordable LPF-powered models are expected to begin this spring.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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